Hiroshi Tanahashi Discusses How He Found Wrestling
The Ace's High Series Continues
New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) has released several parts of their Ace’s High interview series over the past month. The latest parts discussed dive into Tanahashi’s discovery of professional wrestling, and his thoughts and opinions about the business as a young fan.
“Hmm, I’d say I started to get really into it in ’92 or ’93, when I was in my junior year at high school. I remember at first my brother would get up late at night and watch matches on TV,” Tanahashi responded when asked about how he became a professional wrestling fan. “I’d start watching with him, and gradually got hooked.”
He continued by discussing his favorites during that period. “…Kobashi in particular stuck with me; he was still starting out at the time, and wrestling a lot of his matches from underneath. Then in NJPW, the junior heavyweights caught my eye. Wild Pegasus [Chris Benoit] and Eddie Guerrero, Black Tiger [portrayed by either Mark Rocco or Eddie Guerrero depending on the exact date], tearing into each other.”
Tanahashi would detail that the Great Muta and Kenta Kobashi were his favorite wrestlers as an early fan to wrestling. He would also tell a funny story about an incident at school after he started to fall in love with professional wrestling.
Yeah. I remember trying to snapmare this guy as soon as the ‘bell’ rang. But I caught my foot in a desk or something and couldn’t get free. I got pushed down and pinned. First job [loss] of my life.
Later in the third part of the interview Tanahashi would detail what excited him about professional wrestling. “I think it was this idea of these people managing to overcome any expectations. When I didn’t know much about wrestling, I’d see guys take a big suplex, or a stiff lariat and think right away ‘he’s finished’. But when they kicked out, it would blow me away. It was those guys and that resiliency that appealed, I think.”
Throughout his professional wrestling career, Tanahashi has earned a reputation for his ability to make an audience feel during his matches. Something Manami Toyota was a master of.
In the fourth part of the interview Tanahashi would detail the first live wrestling event he attended. “Senior year [High School], we went to see All Japan [All Japan Pro Wrestling] in Gifu. I can’t remember the card too well, but I’m pretty sure there was a six-man tag in the main event.”
He would go on to detail his first time in the Tokyo Dome on October 9, 1995, for the famous NJPW v UWFI (Union of Wrestling Forces International) All Out War event, and how the marquee match of the event stood out to him.
Oh, it has to be the main, Nobuhiko Takada vs Keiji Muto. The story of that match was how Muto would deal with Takada’s kicks and submissions. He caught a Takada kick and turned it into a Dragon Screw, then won with the Figure Four. It was like the ultimate victory for professional wrestling, to win with submission with a pro-wrestling move. Just so satisfying to watch.